Prime Series Dahaad: The Reality Of Many Missing Women Of India

Trigger Warning: This deals with violence against women and may be triggering for survivors.

Dahaad the famous crime thriller with thought-provoking and hard-hitting murder mystery presently running on Amazon prime now with its eight episodes is much more than a movie, Though the movie seems an adaptation of an American serial killer drama, it genuinely places itself with the Indian villages of Rajasthan, and perfectly puts a spotlight on the extreme sexism, prejudice and taboos against women in India.

Dahaad is a Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti creation, directed by Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi. The show gives a good insight into the minds and lives of Indian women in a patriarchal culture. Daahad means a police roar to trace the serial killer. There is an investigation and a chase to find the killer, and within this framework, there are a series of circumstances that portray the socio-cultural roar in the society.

*Spoilers Alert*

The devil in the details

The story is set up in Mandwa Village in Rajasthan where we find a police station where a person comes to report a case against an interfaith romance and the police tries to indulge in it, that shows how there is a difference among the communities.

A man then comes and reports his sister missing but no none listens, but when he says that the boy she was interested in is from a different faith, the case is reported. In the case of the missing sister, an angle of poverty and social stigma comes to the surrounding. The police try and connect the dots to find several women missing and found dead in the public toilet brutally.

The woman cop played by Sonakshi Sinha tries to trace the criminal but being a woman in her late 30s and being the only woman in the police stations she must fight everyday masculinities and social stereotypes.

The villain Vijay Varma the serial killer, who has mastered the role of being a regular family man and his manner of murders in the daylight and his endless effort to hide them with duality was effortless, the creators use the serial killer genre to unlock India where deep-rooted prejudice like caste, class, race becomes the real killer. The patriarchy is not smashed in the movie but revises the path of accountability. Caste pride and conservatism become the ideology of the small town milieu.

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Female agency

The plot in the movie revolves around the females, who are empowered like the policewoman Sonakshi Sinha as Anjali but still have power, a strong woman but weakened by her gender as a woman is demeaned by society’s biases and sexist, caste difference attitude. Still being a cop, she is constantly scrutinized for not getting married. Women become targets as they belong to poor families, are abandoned not privileged and are never aware and think marriage is the only escape become victims of the heinous murder by Vijay Varma as Anand.

Dahaad series on Prime Video not only shows the Rajasthan story but the Indian story. 27 women were found dead in the public toilets in a very disturbing pattern, and it shows that these women belong to those backgrounds of family where dowry is a social problem which makes them run away with their lovers. But he is not a lover but luring innocent girls who lack agency.

Engaging episodes

Vijay Verma as Anand playing the Hindi Professor, a respectable member of society is the serial killer of the movie and is known from the beginning of the episodes but tracing him through his covert methods was the pivotal point of the movie and what are the social stigmas that made him that kind of criminal, is it a faulty gender socialization that made him the psychopath in the movie. The series has no chasing scene or violence but the trail of a psychopath and deeply rooted patriarchy and gender bias in the social chronicle.

The policewoman Anjali, Sonakshi Sinha in Rajasthan with caste prejudice, gender discrimination, marriage pressure and many more but still she makes it to survive and prove herself. The spotlight in these episodes is the police psyche in probe for a dangerous criminal, there are other police officers played by Gulshan Deviah as Devi Lal and Sohum Shah as Kailash who are also in a hurry to find the criminal, but they are in dark, but the audience easily knows the criminal from the two episodes, the series is full of challenges for the cop to nail the criminal. As the death toll rises the cop tries to make a breakthrough, the performances are flawless and impressive and make the audience charged.

The hunters and the hunted

The chase in the movie takes the precedence of narrative, the hunt for the poor women, the hunt for the villain and finally the secrecy unfolds and the truth comes out. As Dahaad trips and comes to its biggest showdown with a brilliant world-building.

The story of Dahaad is all that you find relatable, online dating, casteism, untouchability, xenophobia, dowry, patriarchy and gender discrimination, missing daughters, real social facts intermingled with a fictional story. It is not a regular thriller but a web series that helps us to understand the attitude of people towards women. The thriller gives a very dig at the socio-cultural situation of the country, a powerful and engaging story which tries to make the viewers think that some social elements and menaces against women should be hunted or eradicated to make it a better place for them to survive. Patriarchy does not exist because men want to subjugate women, but it exists because a lot of women play into it. The movie is worth investing in as it champions the social roadblocks.

Dr. Nupur Pattanaik Teaches Sociology, Department of Sociology, Central University of Odisha, Koraput. She specialises on issues of gender, migration, tribal and labour sociology.


About the Author


Dr.Nupur Pattanaik, Teaching Sociology, Department of Sociology Central University of Odisha, Koraput. She specialises in gender, migration, tribal and labour sociology. read more...

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